Civil society is struggling to make itself heard in the presidential campaign

At a time when the war in Ukraine is disturbing the global balance, social movement organizations’ traditional counter-program exercises for the presidential election can give the feeling of a classical ballet that, although the music has disappeared from a sonata to a piece of techno, would continue its arabesques.

Constituted before the bombings, these progressive platforms already had the biggest problems making room for their favorite topics – economic crisis, ecological crisis and social justice – in a national debate focused on the issue of immigration and permeated by racism. Confused by the five-year tenure of a president who made the supposed choice to step over the “intermediate bodies” – even to step on them – they ended up becoming inaudible with the war in Ukraine.

Yet they exist. Review of four initiatives: Never Again !, The Covenant on the Power to Live, Attacs and the very recent Le Printemps des services publics.

The end of the month and the end of the world

Never again ! is the result of an unprecedented alliance between, on the one hand, the trade unions and associations for social transformation such as CGT, FSU, Solidaires or Confédération paysanne and, on the other hand, environmental organizations such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.

“Emmanuel Macron’s policy has highlighted the common origin of social and environmental harm: the liberal model”analyzes François Chartier, campaign manager at Greenpeace.

Created in the wake of the movement with yellow vests to confirm the possible combination of the fight against the difficult end of the month and the one towards the end of the world, the collective was structured during the first incarceration, in the spring of 2020, at the end of which it proposed an emergency plan.

Among these measures we find a mixture of the increase in wages and social minima, the ban on redundancies in for-profit companies, a plan against violence against women, access to public services for all, the forgiveness of debts of poor countries and the abolition of patents or guarantee of access to healthy food for all.

Created around the CFDT and the Abbé-Pierre Foundation (FAP), the Covenant on the Power to Live was also born in the wake of the yellow vests, at a time when Emmanuel Macron’s government was organizing a national “big debate” without inviting mediators.

“We believe that you can not lead ‘from above’. That our field expertise deserves to be linked to the implementation of public policies in order to respond to the various crises “criticizes Christophe Robert, head of the FAP.

Today, 66 associations and trade unions are affiliated with the founders, and a platform has been developed with 90 proposals for the presidential election. Minimum income guaranteed at 50% of median income, global thermal renovation of the homes of the poorest, guarantee of access to health care for foreigners, revitalization of local grocery stores, 100% new vehicles with zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, generalization of citizen service are some of the measures proposed by the Covenant on the power to live for responses to decisions “deeply odd” by Emmanuel Macron.

A presidential election, two strategies

The strategies of the two coalitions diverge. The pact on the power to live is heavily dependent on the presidential election: From 5 November, Laurent Berger on the CFDT side and Christophe Robert on the FAP side went to the morning show from France Inter to present their initiative for this deadline.

Since then, supporters of the pact have worked in the shadow of the teams from the various candidates, from Emmanuel Macron to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, through Anne Hidalgo and Yannick Jadot, to push their initiatives in the programs.

“We met with Valérie Pécresse, but we are different in terms of social measures. For example, she wants the RSA to be covered by compensation. And the recent statements by Emmanuel Macron in the same direction worry us a lot. Because the priority is to raise funds for “to support people while the budget for such measures is melted down. A consideration should in no way lead to underpaid employment. It would be obscene.”specifies Christophe Robert.

“For us, the presidential election is a deadline, but political life is not just about that. We do not believe that political change is happening with the wave of a magic wand “believes in turn François Chartier, from Greenpeace.

“60% of French people believe that presidential candidates do not take into account the various social and environmental issues”

So never again! has just ordered a poll on March 11th. According to this study, “60% of French people believe that the presidential candidates do not take into account the various social and environmental issues, 85% believe that a fair balance can be struck between job creation and the fight against global warming”says the collective Never again !.

In addition to a simple advocacy group, the coalition wants to be a militant tool to bring red and green together in local struggles, such as for the protection of the last paper recycling company in France, in Chapelle-Darblay, a struggle that is succeeding , for the ecological conversion of the Grandpuits refinery or towards the mega basins of the Marais poitevin.

Inequality candidates

Tired of the formatted side of the counter-program exercise and unwilling to provide good and bad points to the various candidates on the left, Attac preferred to x-ray the programs for those they qualified as “inequality candidates” : Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour, Valérie Pécresse and Emmanuel Macron.

“Everyone claims that the problem would come from Muslims, immigrants, assisted people who cheat. It is a derivation from the problem of the distribution of wealth.thinks Raphaël Pradeau, his spokesman.

“None of these candidates want to go back with the abolition of wealth tax, which even the assessment committee for capital tax reform, set up by the government itself at the time of the yellow vests, believes that” it did not allow any “runoff”, but on the contrary expanded the inequalities ”the activist continues.

“On the other hand, it is a real Lépine competition to weaken inheritance and gift taxes, which only apply to 10% of the inheritance, and create new tax loopholes”he hammers again.

Valérie Pécresse proposes doubling the home help tax deduction, Eric Zemmour will double the family quotient ceiling and Marine Le Pen will exempt young people under 30 from tax. Three initiatives that would still benefit the wealthiest section of the population.

“And as the icing on the cake, the announcement of the abolition of Emmanuel Macron’s audiovisual license fee during his meeting on March 7. At no point is the impact of such a measure called into question. At least Eric Zemmour is and Marine Le Pen consistent in proposing the sheer privatization of public radio. Emmanuel Macron, he does not specify how he would finance it without royalty “warns the spokesman for Attac.

“The common point of all these candidates is to reduce the scope of public action. But public service is the wealth of those who have none. So yes, we say that increased inequalities are their project!” shouts Raphaël Pradeau, as do his comrades who went to shout the slogan under the windows of LREM headquarters with their feet in the manure on March 4th.

An observation shared by the signatories of the spring call for public services, published on 14 February.

“We see that the breaking point for public services is over, that they are sometimes unable to provide the service. Instead of simply defending what already exists, we want to both raise awareness of the emergency and reinvent public services. “explains Arnaud Bontemps, spokeswoman for the collective Our public services, signs the call.

Given that public services are far from the only agents’ business providing them, the appeal collected signatures from unions, but also from senior officials, associations and users. It postulates equality for all in terms of access to public services, no matter where they live, the need to release enough resources so that services can be provided, and the need to invent the public services of the future.

“One must take as a starting point people’s needs rather than costs. “There’s too much tendency in this campaign to talk about public services just to get off the plane.”Judge Arnaud Bontemps.

Le Printemps des services publics has launched a study on the perception of public services on the Internet, but primarily intends to organize “Spring Days”, moments of debate, celebration and meetings between the various actors interested in the issue . The first took place on March 19 in Bobigny, and others were to follow in Bordeaux, Nantes, Aurillac.

“It’s a way to build support points for the various organizations, make themselves heard and form local groups”details Arnaud Bontemps.

Against war, solidarity

Given the atmosphere, one may be tempted to consider these variations of social justice, ecology, and democratic issues as imaginative. Covid, however, was a masterful lesson in crisis situations about the usefulness of public services, associations, the commitment of the people.

If they lag behind the news in Ukraine, the associations that bring solidarity to life with this war may once again prove to be central to both humanitarian aid to Ukrainians and to the reception of refugees in France. And more generally, while the prices of hydrocarbons are rising, to help all those in France who can not do without animals and polluting energy, to work and live, as well as to develop solutions that enable them to become less dependent on these energies …

So many topics that will no doubt be at the heart of future pacts, plans and convocations before and after the presidential election.

Leave a Comment